Pushing the Envelope
The Many Mentors of MIT
Over the course of four months, I worked as an experience and game designer with one co-game designer and one project manager to design, build, and run the biggest event of MIT's 2022 Accepted Students Weekend, Innoquest. I was in charge of four of the games: Pushing the Envelope, The Many Mentors of MIT, User Toss, and Maker Map.
Innoquest was a 5-story immersive experience in MIT's Innovation Headquarters (iHQ) that introduced small groups to innovation and entrepreneurship through a series of games and challenges. The story of the experience was that Tim the Beaver, MIT's new mascot, was new to the school and feeling imposter syndrome. This story mirrored what many accepted students would currently be feeling and experiencing. To learn about innovation and entrepreneurship and grow their confidence in a new environment, teams built a problem statement taking into account a particular user and technology, received a real MIT alumni mentor, visited MIT's makerspaces, ideated a solution as a team, and pitched their idea live to real MIT innovation experts!
The experience stretched throughout 25,000 square feet of MIT's Innovation Headquarters (iHQ) and took about 30 minutes for each group to complete. Ultimately, 57 teams completed our experience in only 2 hours.
Purpose and Value
An important value for our project was empowerment. We created an experience that encouraged students to feel confident in their abilities to become innovators and entrepreneurs, regardless of their backgrounds. We took away the competition, the barriers, and the stress of the field and instead made it a fun game. The stakes were low and the experience was purposely fun and silly with unique, creative problem statements like "creating the new iRobot using autonomous vehicle technology for zombies in the life sciences industry." Pitches were not stressful, but an exciting opportunity to share your fun ideas with people that are excited to hear about them! In the end, we provided underrepresented students with an opportunity to walk away from our event and see themselves as innovators.
Pushing the Envelope
Pushing the Envelope was an experience that introduced guests to the world of new technologies from NFTs to nanotechnology to RFID. Cards listing each of these new technologies hung from the ceiling in a visually stunning display that guests could walk through. Guests would go into the display and read the cards, thinking creatively about which technologies could be a good fit for their ideas. Ultimately, teams would choose one technology from one of the floating cards to incorporate into their pitch.
Pushing the Envelope started as my own original concept which I pitched to the other two members of the team. It was voted as a favorite and ultimately moved forward to final production.
Pushing the Envelope assembly
The Many Mentors of MIT
The Many Mentors of MIT was an experience that introduced guests to the amazing and varied network of MIT alumni. Guests were greeted with ball pits. On some of the balls were printed the name and industry of a real MIT alum. Teams dug through the balls to find potential mentors for their project, ultimately deciding on one as a team.
The Many Mentors of MIT started as my own original concept which I pitched to the other two members of the team. It was voted as a favorite and ultimately moved forward to final production.
User Toss was an experience that introduced guests to different potential users for their products. Guests threw bean bags into holes to determine their mystery users. When they landed a bean bag in a hole successfully, they would go up to the hole and remove the velcro to reveal the user that they landed on. The user groups were purposely silly, including pirates, zombies, and aspiring clowns.
User Toss started as my own original concept which I pitched to the other two members of the team. It was voted as a favorite and ultimately moved forward to final production.
Maker Map was an experience that introduced guests to the many makerspaces at MIT including the Edgerton Student Shop and The Deep. Guests saw a map of MIT highlighting many of the different makerspaces on campus. Guests would throw sticky hands onto the map, aiming at the makerspaces. When a team successfully lands a sticky hand on the map, then their team earns makerspace resources and presentation materials for their idea pitch.
Maker Map started as my own original concept which I pitched to the other two members of the team. It was voted as a favorite and ultimately moved forward to final production.
After a discussion of general goals for the experience, we individually brainstormed ideas. Then, we put them on a Miro board where we sorted the ideas and voted for our favorites.
We had weekly team meetings where we discussed updates, goals, deadlines, and decisions. We kept track of our progress on Airtable.
Our experience also required careful planning of guest flow across the five floors.
After putting together working prototypes of all of the games, we installed the games in the building and brought in members of the MIT community and themed entertainment creatives to playtest the experience and share their thoughts. We refined our experience according to their feedback, particularly in making the experience even more fun and silly and in making the games more durable for repeated use.
Before the event, we worked to publicize the event and gather many volunteers to help run the games, listen to pitches, and hand out Tim the Beaver plushes as the end as a prize. We wrote scripts for every volunteer and documents for every game so all of the rules and expectations were clear to naive volunteers and guests.
On the day of the event, we assisted with general operations and making sure the event went smoothly. I helped to onboard the guests and worked on guest flow and team formation. If guests came alone, I helped them find new friends to enjoy the experience with.
508-404-3168 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Pittsburgh, PA | https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenelizabethplatt/